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How to Cook with Tamarind (Ma-Kram)

Tamarind is a tarty fruit that is found in tropical places around the world in Asia and the Caribbean. It is referred to as an “Indian date” and gives a tangy taste to many popular dishes and refreshing drinks in Thailand. The fruit is also found in many stir-fries, marinades, and delectable sauces. Tamarind is usually found to be the secret ingredient in a dish since it can produce a bold sour flavor, which generally helps balance the spiciness of most Thai dishes.

Next time you order Pad Thai or a Green Papaya Salad, try to detect the mysterious flavors that you aren’t familiar with. If one of the flavors is slightly sweet and sour, you’ll know that tamarind was more than likely used in making the meal. Let’s discover how you can cook with tamarind (‘ma-kram’ in Thai) and where you can find this fantastic fruit.

Cooking with Tamarind

What’s great about tamarind is the fact that it’s so versatile, you can use it to make a variety of dishes and even drinks. It can be used in sauces such as curries, pastes, and for noodle dishes. It can even be made into a syrup for ice cream and pancakes. Other ingredients that pair well with tamarind are chilies, ginger, shallots, coconut milk, and sugar. Since the fruit comes in many different forms, there are a plethora of ways you can use tamarind in your cooking.

If you’re looking to tenderize and marinate your meat, you should use tamarind to do so. Tamarind has amazing acidic properties that naturally tenderize firm beef and pork cuts. The acidic nature of the fruit breaks down the fibers in the meat, making it super tender and easier to cook with in stir-fries. If you use tamarind as a marinade for chicken or fish, you have to be careful. If you let it marinate for too long, it can actually cook the fish or chicken on its own, the acidity is that strong.

The Various Forms of Tamarind

Tamarind can be found in a variety of forms. Depending on how you want to cook with it will determine how you buy its form. You can buy the whole pods, which usually come in a package, but you’ll have to spend some time prepping them since they need to be peeled and soaked. You can buy tamarind that’s already compressed and has been made into a solid. All you would have to do is soak the solid block in order to cook with it.

If you’re looking to use tamarind as a syrup, you can purchase it as a nectar that’s already been processed into a liquid. You can also buy tamarind that’s concentrated in a glass jar, this is the best form if you’re using it to make a paste, sauce, or a dressing.

To make a refreshing drink with tamarind, it is best to purchase the tamarind nectar. That way, when you want to add a naturally sweet and sour kick to your iced tea, you can easily dissolve the syrup in your glass.

Where to Buy Tamarind in Thailand

Tamarind is found in tropical countries around the world such as northern African countries, India, Jamaica, Bahamas, Thailand and Costa Rica. You can find tamarind at any Asian grocery store or another specialty store. While you’re visiting Bangkok, you’ll want to try the unique flavor of tamarind and buy it fresh or concentrated so you can cook with it back home.

While you’re shopping and touring around the Chidlom district, stop by the MBK Center. Not only does the MBK Center have fantastic retail stores, but there’s also a Top’s Market. This market sells lots of fresh and local produce of Thailand, including the various forms of tamarind. Not only can you buy tamarind as a fruit, you can buy soups, shampoos, and other beauty products that use tamarind as a sweet scent.

Another fantastic mall in the Chidlom district is CentralWorld. It’s considered to be one of the best malls in Bangkok and is known for its unique fashion boutiques. If you’re looking to stay in a central area that’s close to all these great shopping areas, check out our rooms at Centre Point Chidlom. You’ll be assured the best accommodation that’s close to all the best shopping districts in Bangkok.

We hope you have a wonderful time in Bangkok!